Category Archives: An autobiography

Post 192. Cooling Down

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Delhi’s infamous summer hit us from behind.  We had experienced it on our short visits over the years, but we had never lived in it.  The billies from the hills weren’t prepared for their first summer with temperatures above 45 degrees C.

Our Gypsy’s air-conditioning had given up the ghost during Tony’s accident (see Post 156) and the black garbage bag covering the right rear window didn’t  even try to keep the heat out.   Driving around Delhi was unpleasant to say the least.

It wasn’t in our budget to get air-conditioners in the flat but we were able to install a desert-cooler in the living room.  It was made up of a steel frame, a water trough and straw padding.  When we first turned it on our house smelled like a horse’s stable, but it did the job.  When the smell got too bad, we put a few drops of essential oil into the water and that was sucked up into the straw.

Summer power cuts were common.  With everyone using their air-conditioners, Delhi’s power source took strain.  When the power went off,  everything went off.  No lights, no fans and no desert-cooler.  Fortunately we had done a strategic swap with Raman and Kiron:  our electric blanket for their inverter.   This re-chargeable battery was able to run two ceiling fans and a tube light in the lounge for about three hours.

During night power cuts,  we would wake up drenched with sweat not knowing how long the fans had been off.   One by one we would drag our mattresses into the lounge.  The kids would soak their sheets in water and we would lie spread eagled under the two droning fans.  There would be lots of giggling and silly nonsense before we finally drifted off to sleep again.

We casually mentioned our vehicle and air-conditioning situation to God. “God, we can do this, but don’t expect us to be too productive.”

When Dudley Daniel heard of our predicament, he very kindly helped us to purchase a/c s for the whole house.  We were so grateful.

Soon after that, someone unknown to us, sent us money to purchase a brand new Toyota Qualis.  Again, we were amazed and incredibly grateful.

For Jordan’s birthday we gave him a gift we could all use.  We put it on our back balcony and it was perfect for those hot, sweaty summer nights.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

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Post 191. United Nations

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We shopped for two days non-stop then moved in to our little flat.  Everything was nice and new and it didn’t take long for us to settle into our noisy neighbourhood.

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Ash and Zo with their friend and teacher Georgie Muggleton (Kalkaji)

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Louise Bulley- always there to help.

Ash, Zoe and Jordan were still homeschooling.   It was nice to have them at home to witness first hand how a community grew. From the day we moved in, people came and went.  We especially loved it when our friends from Mussoorie popped in.   Our new Delhi friends were all so generous and hospitable and we never lacked company.

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Our first visitors in our first flat in Delhi: James and Willi Barton with Sharon John and Lovily Vito

 

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Arad, Praveen, Lal and Lily

Joshua John and his sister, Sharon joined us and they started to bring their student friends. We had an influx of young girls from Lady Shri Ram College (LSR) across the road and they added a lively and happy dynamic to our older group of friends.  Arun and Madhavi Handa and the original home group (See Post 180) didn’t miss a community meeting and regularly brought new people who wanted to know more about Jesus.  We started to hear some incredible stories and also learnt more about Delhi’s middle to upper class issues. It was an education.

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It didn’t take long for the Kenyans and Ugandans to arrive.. (Ronny)

On the 26 January (Indian Republic Day) a picnic was arranged and we just had to arrive.  There were 50 people from all backgrounds and ages and food enough for the Indian Army (well almost).  We had snacks and starters, mains and drinks and our first experience of the rabdi and jalebi combo.  It was so different from our very simple, tight budget picnics in Mussoorie.  The Delhi Wallas were generous in every way and they went out of their way to bless us and everyone who came to CNC-Delhi.

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Our first marriage retreat..

Right from the start we wanted CNC to be a multi-cultural, multi-generational community.  We welcomed people from every tribe, nation and tongue.  Soon it was looking like a little United Nations with the major difference being that we were united. Oh and happy. Very happy.

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Just to say that Atul on the right and Lily (in the lilac sweater) got married a few weeks ago.  This photo is from 2000.. 17 years later 🙂

 

Post 190. Begin again

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22 January 2000:

We had just had an amazing and much needed holiday in Goa.   Over the years we had driven for four to five days to get to the beach, but this time we went by train which took about 36 hours.  It was long but we survived.   Jordan was good at making us laugh in tense situations so we had our share of free entertainment.

When we arrived in Delhi we realised how different life was going to be.  The road trip from Delhi to Mussoorie  usually took about 9 hours.  We would get off the train or plane in Delhi and sleep over in a cheap hotel or with our friends, Andries and Brenda.  We would then get onto another train to Dehra Dun and then into a taxi all the way up the very windy mountain to Mussoorie. Sometimes we would arrive late at night and have to walk along the narrow path to our house with sleeping children and luggage.  There was always someone to help us, but it was quite a feat to arrive home sane.

This time we stayed with the Lindeques because we didn’t have furniture in our flat.  Andries, Brenda and their children Sarah and Simon were already an important part of our new community.  It was a Saturday.  Arun Handa and Raman had secured a school classroom for us to use for our first meeting.   All I could think of was, “What will we do with the DESKS?”   We were grateful but all felt there was something better.  At 5pm on Saturday evening,  Tony, Raman, Andries and Arun booked the Madhur Milan Banquet Hall!  It was across the street from Lady Shri Ram Girls’ College where Sharon John was studying. The guys came back very excited. Brenda asked if it had red carpets and it did.  A few weeks earlier she had a dream about a place with red carpets.

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The next day was Sunday and we were wondering, like Asha had been,  if anyone would come. We had nothing to worry about.  Word got out and friends were brought.  It was an amazing  first meeting.  There were about  40 people, including children.   People stayed well after 1 pm to chat.

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It was an interesting mixture of people and we knew that once again we were going to be part of another Community of Nations.  Enthusiasm and expectations ran high.  Mid-week house meetings were set up and there we were… At the very beginning of a beautiful new community.

No-one was more surprised than Asha.

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Post 189. The Girl and The Sea

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“Take my burden!”

The young girl cried to the sea

“For it is heavy, too heavy for me.

But I know it is mine

I have carried it

And dragged it and now,

On this shore

I can move it no more.

All that I am

And all that I’ve done

Is in this load

I can no longer tow.

Its weight outweighs me

And I need to be

Free of its aches and pains and chains.

I am ready to let go

To loosen my grip

Just as these grains of sand

Slip through my fingers

So worn and sore from the pain of it

All my decisions

And choices and chances

And dances with darkness

I have in a bundle

On this shifting shore.”

“Give it up!” cry the waves,

“Your tears are enough

Just walk away and leave it with us.

We will take it and roll it and bury it

No! Don’t pick it up!

It is no longer yours.

This ocean forgets

And it washes so clean

It washes away footprints

You’ll forget where you’ve been.

And even this spot

Believe it or not

Won’t be here

Should you ever feel the need

To find it

To remind it

That this bundle was yours.

It will be gone

That’s what we do

We bury those bundles

Instead of you.

Now stand up

And start to move.

Just don’t look back,

But if you do

That bundle will be deep

Down in the depths of the blue

Sea of forgetting

And you

Will run

Light and unrelenting

Burden less

Free

Forgiven

And fearless”

Said the girl to the sea,

“I will.”

Linda Johnson

Goa

Post 188. Adjusting to Delhi

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Asha was angry.  She was angry with us and she was angry with God.  She hated Delhi and missed her Mussoorie friends and family.  Of course Zoe was still her bestie and she was always available but Ash was struggling to believe she could ever be happy again.  Our house in the forest in Mussoorie was beautiful and spacious.  Our new flat in Kalkaji  was noisy and small and it didn’t take us long to find out that Delhi wasn’t safe for young girls.

One afternoon while I was resting, some teenage schoolboys knocked on our door.  They had noticed that our Gypsy (jeep)  wasn’t parked outside so assumed that the girls were alone.  Fortunately the chain was on, so the door only partially opened.  When Zoe opened it, one of the boys put his foot into the door and said, “We want friendship.” Another one asked for water.  Asha and Zoe shouted and pushed the door closed on them. Their shouts woke me up.   They were shaken and upset.  The boys went away but kept their eyes open for another opportunity.  When Tony heard about it, he was mad.

Tony’s study door opened onto our narrow stairwell right next to the front door.  I was out in the Gypsy and the boys once again assumed the girls were alone.  They had no idea what was waiting for them.

They knocked on the door and the girls open it.  They tried to force their way in and the girls shouted.  Tony flung his study door open and shouted.  The boys panicked and started pushing and pulling each other down the narrow stairwell.  Tony scrambled after them and grabbed two of them by their collars.  He knocked them together and dragged them up the stairs giving them “Charlies” all the way.  (Knees in thighs).  The others escaped.

The shaken up boys were presented to our landlord who proceeded to hit them all over with his chappal; the mother of all Indian insults.  The higher the swing the more humiliation is involved.  His swings were high.  They were then dragged off to their principal who proceeded to do the same with his chappal.  The parents were called in and they got some more.

Tony came home dusting his hands and chuckling in triumph.  No-one was going to touch his girls and every boy in the neighbourhood knew to stay away from the girls who lived in K66.

This experience shook us all up and Ash was even more upset about having to live in Delhi.  We prayed with her and talked about how there would soon be new friends and a whole new community in Delhi- just like the one in Mussoorie.  She struggled to believe it.

“But how do you know anyone is going to come?”

All we could say was, “You’ll see Ash.”

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Asha 12 and Zoe 11-Entertaining each other.

Post 187. I’m back- I think

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I have been putting this moment off for three years.  Just in the past five minutes I have deleted this sentence at least six times.  Questioning and doubting.  I am also very aware of what’s coming if I start this again.

I need to get into my photo albums, diaries and scrappy script to add details of the past seventeen years to it (2000-2017).

I am going to need to be disciplined and creative and my memory is going to have to be shaken to it’s core.

Many of the events of the past seventeen years in Delhi have been painful.   I’m not sure I want to re-visit them or put them down for others to read but I will aim to do this slowly and with wisdom. These years have also been among our happiest.  It’s been quite a roller coaster ride.

So, my last and final excuse is that when it comes to writing,  I am lazy and need some major motivation.  I have recently had some lovely comments about my blog being inspiring and helpful, so I will start again.

Tony and I are leaving Delhi soon to start another community from scratch; for the first time without our kids.

Asha, Zoe and Jordan were 12, 11 and 5 when you last read about them.  It was the year 2000 and we had just moved to Delhi.  They are grown ups now. They are all married and we have two grandchildren.   It has been our greatest happiness to have them all within walking distance of our house in Delhi. I’m not sure I’m ready for this.

We are moving to Nagaland (Far North East India). The internet there can be quite unreliable and I’m not sure how often I will be able to post my posts.  Probably not every day. It may be erratic- so to you ladies who sat down with your cup of coffee and my blog every morning- you may be disappointed 🙂

I am learning (and I’m a slow learner) that if anything needs to be done, I need to do it, otherwise it won’t get done.  Profound, I know.

Thank you for following my story.  I hope I can keep it addictive and interesting and inspiring.  I love knowing who is reading and what you are thinking, so please let this be a two way thing ok?  I need all the encouragement and inspiration I can get 🙂IMG_0292

Post 186. Benediction aka Bye for now

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So began the new Millennium; from the mountain heights of celebration to the valley of death.

There is just no knowing what is around the corner.  We live and we die.  We shout for joy and we weep with grief.  We feel invincible, then we feel vulnerable.  Life is good then life seems bad.  One day we are convinced that life is fair, the next day we are convinced it sucks.  We enjoy years of health, then one day we wake up not able to move.

We wobble and shake but somehow we keep standing.  We are devastated and then we laugh again.  We give up hope then we find it.  We are in the dark then we see a familiar light in the distance and we keep walking.  We put our confidence in man and are disappointed.  We build our lives on sand and things collapse around us.  We live for fleeting pleasures and realise how short-lived they are.

In all of the change one thing remains.  God.  The Good One.  The One who never changes.  The One who always knows better.  He is the steel in us.  The rock in us.  The foundation in us.  He is the concrete in us.

We may be stressed out, but we aren’t crushed.  We may not understand what is going on but we don’t despair of life.  We may be accused and attacked but we aren’t alone.  We may even be struck down with sickness or financial problems but they aren’t going to destroy us. (My take on 2 Cor 4:8-9)

The treasure in us is worth more than all this world can give.  We have a home.  A place far from here.  So, we keep hoping.  We keep loving.  We keep living.

Benediction :

May you never stop your dreaming

Love always the goal

May you seek to love the Lord your God

Body, mind and soul

May you take His yoke upon you

As you walk the narrow way

More and more in love with Him

Every single day

May His gladness overtake you

As you follow in His way

May His passion and power

Urge you to stay

Living a life that seems out of control

Energy filled and alive

Soaring like the eagles you will fly

To places you’ve never been

Seeing what others can’t see,

When they look into the sky.

Come with me. Let’s fly

With this prayer for you, I end my blog for now.  I am taking time out to catch up on my sparsely kept journals from the past thirteen  years.  Thank you for reading The Long and Winding Road and encouraging me with your comments.  It may be a few months but in the words of Arnold, “I will be back.”

If you would like to keep in touch: lindia60@gmail.com